LEAD IN BOATHOUSE RINSED

on the boat everybody was on dancing

there was two more people climbing each other

in a movie     they were sitting down

and one person came up an punched them in the head and I

was wow I was    overwhelmed and I felt it I did in my head

I felt it in my head feel the ground because my eyes were closed but

then I asked somebody what

they felt and they told me to pull my pants up

then laughed but I could not     understand this boat because of all the bodies

in the cups that we all had one big one and it was metal

but then they made me go upside down to drink it I did not

understand why I love this so much and everybody was cheering I hate

who they are but they are there right then and we are not on a boat I am sorry

if I confused this with something else like a boat

it was in the shape of a boat that is what it was the shape like

how it looks like it keep you warm if it is over turned

a bottle and you can have to pull on all these things so that the enemies or whoever

the crew knows that you are a pirate

and I noticed while they were dancing this that I hadn’t

ever wanted to be sitting     down while we were loud

whoever they felt they told me to pull my pants up and I was drinking

a bottle of water and saw inside of it this note that said something

and then I looked inside of  it and I saw a ship in it

while everybody illegally fought dogs in the basement or people I was one

of them and I was     did not want to be a pirate

so they hit me with the pipe

~~~

Angelo Maneage is a famous grocery clerk and 2017 recipient of the Academy of American Poets’ Alberta Turner Poetry Prize. He has work on Hobart, in Sprung Formal, coming to FIVE:2:ONE, and around other places. He is co-editor and founder of Long Long Journal and poetry editor for BARNHOUSE. He lives in Bedford, Ohio. 

Sonnet

What’s ordinary now? Bees? No, they’re going. Licking

Pictures of pretty boys’ faces you found online but printed

Out for company? No, why would you need to print them.

And who has a printer with that much color ink? Plus,

They wouldn’t be just pretty, either—some’d be menacing

And some’d be women because multitudes can’t contain

Themselves until they’re tied down, lovingly but firmly,

The leather around their throats putting a little hitch

In every fifth breath. Imagine singing to them like this—

Even blindfolded they’d know if you used a recording—

Their only clue of where you might touch them next being

Wherever it sounds like you are. And as you watch them

Strain to listen, as the harness tightens around their chest,

You’ll feel the thrill of unanswered need, and time flowering to extend it——

 

~~~

 

By Nathanielle Dawn

Lazarus, after Doubt Comes In & LIBIDO in a time of vacancy

Lazarus, after Doubt Comes In

All the snakelike things writhing in my gut,
the way plaid calls itself houndstooth, these
patterns showing themselves
in composite. Tell me the crosseyed
were damned and I’d believe
you. I could never trust
the mercy of dilation. Too careless a trust,
to snake blood from your gut
up to your optic nerves. In belief,
the crosseyed are born unblind. These
yearners born broken, born crosseyed.
The serpents ever-yielding to themselves
a burden: to call themselves
serpents. This kind of self-definition a trust
beyond trust. Call the crosseyed crosseyed
and they’ll snap into focus. Tell the gut
to bleed and it will. These
kinds of injury a blessing, to believe
your body a body. The belief
your limbs will slough themselves
is not unfounded– all of these
miracles temporary, after all. Trust
in recovery and you’ll be gutted
time and time again. The crosseyed
a kind of reborn. The crosseyed,
if they are to be believed,
happily interstitial. My gut
an ulcer unto itself. Certainties themselves
rotting into nothing. The final trust
of death, too, gone. All of these
maladies without end. These
limbs only scar tissue. Me, crosseyed,
even with repentance. With trust,
I could know pain had an end. Believe
in anyone and they’ll tell themselves

you’re saved. Even after your gut’s
gone bloody. If only the blurred
would unblur again. Until then
I’ll rot further and further. Death
a mercy beyond mercy. Everything only beyond itself.

 

LIBIDO in a time of vacancy

And after all this, I curl up
in a chlorine shawl. My shoulders
draped in swimming pool. My

nose dripping with isopropyl. Everything
like this, disinfected. Undangerous. I am
the wolf-faced lamb. The battery torn
loose from the coupe. If only
you’d teach me how to love. The wolf
without technique. Without experience.
There is no practice
for sex. For love, yes, but for
Love, no. Let me shapeshift
and I’ll do as your body wants. Teach
me how to turn feral and we'll eat
out every night this week. Decadent with
forbidden fruit. Learned only in
breaststroke and making out. Eyes rubbed
raw from swimming laps. The YMCA a
cathedral of chlorine. Moonlight crashing through glass,
refracting through water and
declaring me guilty. The lamb without an
excuse. The water, without knowing, asleep
in my lungs. Teach me how to fuck
and I’ll learn how to breathe.

 

~~~

 

Alrisha Shea is a 17 year old student going into Bioinformatics in undergrad. They can be observed in their natural habitat @alrisha_s on Twitter. Their work is published or forthcoming in Outlook Springs, Crab Fat Magazine, Dirty Paws Poetry, and others. Their chapbook, Cicada Girl / Locust Boy is forthcoming from corrupt press.

brandywine river

baptize me in the brandywine with a bottle

of hard cider in my hand / stick to me like

wet clothes / tuck yourself inside me

like a message in a bottle

 

the water licked my body like / envelope

glue, sealed me up / and the moon didn’t

bother trying / to cover her black eye /

purple cotton candy bruise

 

baptize me in the brandywine with the

tiny river clams / with the coors light cans /

the rush hour traffic, that’s not our world /

our world is honeysuckle wind and the

anxiety of trying to describe it /

 

reach for me, I’m slippery as silt covered rock /

bury yourself like riverbed trash / catch your

eyes flash / like dark side of spanish moon /

 

baptize me in the brandywine beneath the

valentine red and white crucifix / hammered

to the riverside tree / some drowning victim

memorial / a prayer begs to be slurred

 

~~~

Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She is a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she studies English with a concentration in Writing. Her work has been published and is forthcoming in over two dozen literary journals. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @rxbxcca_anna, and you can read more of her writing on her website.

 

Lingering Fawn

I lay naked in a ditch, waiting to meet you.
I put myself there, fell in and decided this is where I’ll stay.
The ground is cold but I can feel the earth’s core,
burning me like a hot steam.
If I close my eyes I can feel your arms around me.

I wait for you to drive by and mistake me for a dead fawn.
Take interest in my remains.
Pick me up, bring me home and bathe my body as I lay limp.
Wrap me in white linens.
And breathe life,
Into me,
Thru my cunt.

the sun is out, but i am not

for every girl

 

and the ghost of you is stifling. it is pure

and it is honest, so how on earth could it be

wrong? the year is now. sounds from

Coppélia spread itself on the walls like

ivy, my body sheathed in bees, i reach

for the lily caught in my throat and beg

the disabling hunger, growling in the pit

of my paunch, to end. my detail is left

untouched, and so, i am dying. this is

the kind of darkness that makes existence

questionable. how could i go dead in an

instant and rise reluctantly with the

sun? at  times i am too much

effort than you’ll ever be willing to

give. and further times i trust that you

will take your time with me. until then,

my sex, an unmarked holy grail, lies

dormant somewhere between

‘i love you’ and ‘no.’ this day’s air

sits plump in my nostrils.

sweating. the smell of an

omelette, overcooked,

ejaculation from four

hours ago collected neatly

in my fingernails,

insomnia lulling, i am in a moon bassinet.

how long must I cradle this lie?

the sun creeps in, painting the floors a

glaring shade of ‘new life’ and stops

just short of me in my dazed and copper

nakedness. i know i must go, but it is

impossible to leave this room. and, to

forget you; my body, hacked and charred,

eternally trapped inside of your rose

colored sun. i am the wetness of an

oyster, alive and lapping, longing, for

what feels like the end of an era—

outfitted in my usual uniform: a lack of

emotional seasons. there are so many, and

yet, not a soul is enough. i want to

pierce myself through your black hole and

find peace on the other side. girls tell me

that happiness is a costume only

a few of us wear well. i love

you because you are a child of war born

from disproportionate lovers, and, you

also care. one day, i will taste the

juice of a divine summer in your healthy

peach. and cry when i come. i will wake up

some mornings next to you with a mouth

full of ‘sorry.’ i extend my

sincerest apologies for all the mindless

things i know i will do.

 

~~~

Afieya Kipp (she/her) is a queer poet and editor born in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the forthcoming titles, Investments in Weak Vessels (Whiskey Tit Books) and Hopefully You Find Something Meaningful In This (Vessel Press), as well as (black)Moans(wane)s (Vessel Press), which is available via Payhip and Amazon, and “conversations in the ego graveyard,” also on Amazon. Currently, she’s the founder and EIC of Vessel Press, and lives in northern New Jersey where she carries poems in her wallet. Follow her on Twitter: @AfieyaK and @vessel_press.

I am Francesca; He can be Paolo

As he leaves the bedroom, he tells me to get undressed and lie on my stomach.
I take off my leggings and my socks, then my knickers and my jumper.
I sit on the bed, looking at my vast pale flesh.
The toilet flushes, and I hear a thwump as his belt hits the bathmat.  I know that when he comes into the bedroom, he will be naked and I will look at the tiger which sits above his nipple, and the paragraph of text from Brothers Karamazov, sliding over his bicep.
I am fleshy and white.  My areolas are a light shade of rose, but otherwise, I am colourless.
He comes into the bedroom and he is naked.
He says, ‘Come on.  We’ll do it like this, if you want.’
He rubs my back with sandalwood oil.  His fingertips create waves in the fat, like little tsunamis.
Francesca watches us.  Paolo’s Francesca, I mean.  She hangs in a frame above the bed, red-headed and voluptuous.
Francesca reminds me that I look like her, and that if she is good enough for a son of a lord, I am good enough for this man from Wyoming.
Francesca shows me her body:
I worship the deep dimples in her knees
the soft roundness of her stomach
her white, ice skin.
~~~
Francesca King has been engaged for years in writing prose which considers ‘lost’, ‘strange’, or ‘abandoned’ spaces.  Her last novel, ‘The Cello Hospital’, (shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2017) is set in the dark underbelly of Paris, and is concerned with spaces such as the catacombs and Le Petite Ceinture – the abandoned railway which loops around Paris like a ‘little belt’.  She is currently writing a novella which considers Iceland’s ‘hidden people’ and the mythical spaces they inhabit.  When not writing, she likes to spend time with her two cats.